For everyone present that night, it is a bittersweet anniversary.
With only weeks to go before WrestleMania returns behind closed doors, some of WWE’s biggest superstars have been recalling the last time that wrestling fans were able to attend a major event in their thousands before the COVID-19 pandemic brought an end to live sports as we know it.
On Feb. 27, 2020, WWE’s Super ShowDown took place in Riyadh, bringing some of the brand’s biggest names together to produce a memorable show for Saudi fans. Few would have guessed at the time that it would be the last of its kind to date.
This week marked the one-year anniversary of the halting of all sporting activities across the globe, and though many events have returned in one form or another, few have allowed live audiences back in any meaningful way.
A year on from that night at Mohammed Abdu Arena on Riyadh Boulevard, The Miz, Bobby Lashley, The Street Profits and Bayley have been sharing their memories from the event, which featured some of WWE’s all-time greats, including The Undertaker and Goldberg, along with Saudi’s very own Mansoor.
The local hero delighted his home-town audience with a win over American grappler Dolph Ziggler, while the ever-popular Undertaker emerged victorious from the five-man Tuwaiq Trophy Gauntlet match. This was followed by John Morrison and The Miz defeated then-reigning SmackDown Tag Team Championship title-holders The New Day.
The previous day, The Miz had told fans to “expect the unexpected, expect new champions.”
Having last teamed up together at a WWE event in 2011, the duo delivered on that promise.
Reflecting on his experience, The Miz said: “Another big memory was the presence of real-life fans in the audience cheering who they love. It has always been interesting going to different countries, observing different cultures and seeing fans understand what we do. This is what makes it fun and encourages us to be interactive when performing. It is always incredible.”
Bobby Lashley, who recently claimed the WWE Title, also cherishes his time at Super ShowDown, the second time he performed in Saudi Arabia.
“In Saudi, the venue was huge and the energy was high, which made the matches incredible and so full of life, because we were able to feed off the crowd,” he said.
The biggest highlight, for Lashley, was “the perfect synchronization of the crowd, the stage itself and the ring, as it almost had that WrestleMania feel.”
For Bayley, one of WWE’s most high-profile female wrestlers, visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time was a special experience, particularly the way that she and the other Superstars were treated as they enjoyed the sites of Riyadh. She went on to make history by competing, and winning, against Naomi in the first-ever WWE women’s title match in KSA.
The Street Profits, who faced Seth Rollins and Murphy for the RAW Tag Team Championship, said that they enjoyed many elements of the trip, including the food, shopping malls and weather.
However, they recalled that the most memorable part of their time in Saudi Arabia was the energy and enthusiasm provided by the fans, a theme consistent with all of the Superstars as they reflected on the event.